Bicol Bishops All Out vs Coal Mine Project - CBCP

MANILA, August 18, 2009— Roman Catholic bishops in Bicol region are all out against the planned coal mining project in the region alleging that it would destroy ecology.

Despite strong opposition from church leaders and residents of Catanduanes province to Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc., the mine still obtained green light from the Department of Energy.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said mining has “ripped apart” the ecological, cultural and social fabric of many communities in Bicol where there’s mining.

He criticized the government for adhering to business interests over the welfare of the people who suffer much from the “ill effects” mining operations.

“Once you engage in mining, you scratch the land and it only destroys the land… there is nowhere to go but (destruction),” Bishop Bastes said.

The church leader made the statement on Tuesday after Virac Bishop Manolo De Los Santos vowed that the church will block the coal mining project in Catanduanes.

Bishop Bastes said all church leaders in Bicol region are ready to extend help to Bishop De Los Santos in stopping the project.

“We are in full support of him… not only me but all of us bishops here in Bicol because mining does not help the community but destroys it,” he said.

The Catholic hierarchy has been calling on the Arroyo administration to cancel mining concessions in the country, warning of environmental damage and the loss of resources to mining companies.

The island of Bicol is gifted with over 1.2 million metric tons of high-quality coal deposits within an 7, 000-hectare land area which the government has allowed to be mined.

When converted to cold cash based on the prevailing world market price, this volume is worth a whopping P6.2 billion.

The Catanduanes coal district covers over some 14 upland villages within Panganiban, San Andres and Caramoran that sit at the heart of the 1, 511 square-kilometer island.

Coal is the world’s leading source of electricity today. However, experts said, it is also responsible for about 70 percent of world carbon emission causing global warming. (Roy Lagarde)

Source: CBCP News